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Link: Driverless racing is real, terrible, and strangely exciting | Ars Technica

There’s something pretty breathtaking about walking into a pit lane and seeing a car with no driver launch onto the track. The cars line up at the end of the pit lane, the light goes green, and off they go. It’s at once an incredibly familiar sight but also completely jarring as the cars just skim along, hitting the end of the pit lane speed limit before going out of sight through the first corner. And not every run was successful; the cars sometimes crashed into a wall or needed to be pulled back from the exit. First was a pre-qualifying process to establish which teams had a car capable of racing; each was benchmarked on its lap time and the car’s ability to cleanly perform an overtake. The fastest team in pre-qualifying, Polimove, set a lap time of 1 minute, 57.854 seconds, with a top speed of over 156 mph. That's nothing compared to a Super Formula car’s potential at Yas Marina with a professional human racing driver behind the wheels, but it's not bad, either. The TII-developed car lapped more than 15 seconds quicker, at close to 1:42, showing how much potential remains untapped for the faster teams. I thought overtaking might be too big a hurdle. Roborace managed an autonomous overtake for the first time during a trial race at Monteblanco in Spain in 2019 when its championship car overtook TUM’s. It was a very pedestrian move, but in autonomous terms, it was monumental—one car calculated the risk of overtaking and figured it was worth it; the other realized it was pointless to defend and risk a collision. #


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